Something's been aching my groin during my latest television binge-watch, and I'm not talking about the muscle atrophy I've developed after having not moved from the couch in 234 days. I'm talking about the documentary crew filming the characters within Parks and Recreation. It doesn't make sense. Who are they? Why are they there? Do they ever get tired of this guy's sass?
Now, I understand that plenty of shows use a mockumentary-style and that, while The Office did eventually give theirs an explanation and a backstory, many never even bother to explain. (For example, why does a film crew follow a "modern" middle-class family living in the valley for over a decade?) Which is fine. As a "well-trained audience member" TM, I can tell myself that maybe the History channel is paying through the teeth to chronicle the lives of a small-town government department whenever this trope is used. It's believable enough, and, after all, it's just a narrative device. It helps get jokes across that maybe otherwise wouldn't be there. There's not an ounce of me, for example, that would ever advocate taking away any of these moments:
But while I'd normally get on board for suspending my disbelief with the Parks and Rec docu-crew, I humbly ask, this one time, that they suspend deez nuts instead. (Seriously, they've gone numb about 58 days ago.) Why? Because it just makes no sense. I mean, are we expected to believe, Ron Swanson, a man so wary of surveillance that he doesn't trust banks, would allow a film crew to chronicle his department?
The guy buries gold and just admitted to it on camera. (Or did he? Wait, yeah, he pretty much did.) I could see Leslie trying to strong-arm Ron into allowing the film crew in an effort to increase exposure or something, but I think it would be a bridge way too far for him, and I think it would also be detrimental to her. Leslie might be a "what you see is what you get"-style politician, but she's still a politician, and that means she needs to keep some things quiet. Yet here she is implicating herself of government wrongdoing on camera:
There is a reason Parks and Rec leaned away from the mockumentary style of season 1. The creators realized it wasn't well served for the story they were telling. They correctly assessed that Leslie is too earnest to put on airs for a camera and the world is too zany to be bogged down in the realism of the mockumentary. Fair enough. But the mockumentary device wasn't completely excised, and for those of us still obsessing over every little detail of a TV show's lore (as we're wont to do here) we're still left with a big, fat what the hell is going on with that camera crew? Please, Mike Schur, I think I permanently lost sensation in my left butt cheek since starting this show. Please, tell me.
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Top Image: NBC